News: New entry control point to ease congestion in Baghdad area
Story by Sgt. John Stimac
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — A new entry control point is scheduled to open no later than March 7, in time for the Iraqi elections, at Victory Base Complex, Iraq.
ECP 14 was a contracted military project funded in fiscal year 2007 for $4.83 million, designed to ease the traffic and tension of the other ECP's at VBC, said Col. Eric C. Bush, the VBC base defense commander with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Prineville, Ore., native.
Bush said ECP 14 is a major entry control point, built from the ground up, to allow access to VBC to virtually anyone who needs to come on base.
"This will be the largest and most modern ECP in the Iraq Joint Operations Area," he said.
Bush said it will significantly enhance the base's ability to provide protection, not only to service members and civilians working on base, but for those traveling on and off the base.
"The ECP ... is certainly the longest ECP that we have," he said. "More than 100 people will be manning this checkpoint and that will include U.S. forces and contracted security."
Capt. Mark T. Schlosser, the base defense operations center engineer and a Gresham, Ore., native, said the linear way the ECP is constructed only allows potential insurgents to come from one direction, allowing the military the opportunity to spread its forces over a larger distance and better guarantee their safety in the event of an attack.
"When it's all spread out, there is no soft target out there," he said. "It's also going to take more pressure off ECP 2 and 13, by lifting some traffic off them."
Schlosser said they had to implement a few minor changes and make some tough decisions in the last year, which caused slight delays in opening the ECP.
"The ECP used to be a swamp, so we had to work through those issues," he said. "We also had some issues with the number of signs to be used on the checkpoint and communications equipment, but those are all resolved now."
Schlosser said the last three weeks have been well choreographed between five local national contractors and military engineers. When the ECP opens, a whole military convoy, because of the ECP's length, would be entirely off of the road and inside of the ECP, which makes it safer for the Soldiers, he said.
"We're making sure they are safe before they come in," said Schlosser. "There is a much greater chance of that happening with the opening of ECP 14, especially when it gives the badge inspectors more time to focus on doing their job at the gate and letting people and vehicles in."
Bush said he hopes phase one of the ECP 14 opening lasts roughly 30 days.
"Phase one is open to inbound U.S. military traffic only, but the plan is to have it open to all traffic — military, contractors and pedestrians — that need access to VBC," he said.
Schlosser said the changing environment in Iraq makes opening the ECP even more important, especially as the drawdown of U.S. forces draws near. This, he said, is key to responsibly drawing down.
"We plan on becoming more and more of a hub here at VBC and the new and improved ECP 14 will facilitate those needs," said Bush.